As Jordan Spieth was walking out of the media center after conducting a post-round interview, he ran into Graeme McDowell.
The two stopped and quickly congratulated each other on advancing to today’s quarterfinals.
“How many holes did you play today? 15?” McDowell asked.
“No, I made it all the way to 17,” Spieth responded.
“Oooooooh, 17,” McDowell shot back. “That’s nothing.”
McDowell, the No. 4 seed in the Sam Snead bracket needed 21 holes to close out 2012 champion Hunter Mahan on Friday. It’s the second time in three days McDowell has needed an extra hole or more and he needed a full 18 in between to win his second-round match.
Spieth, on the other hand, has only played 18 holes once this week at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, beating Pablo Larrazabal 2 up Wednesday. He dispatched Thomas Bjorn in 14 holes Thursday and closed out 2013 champ Matt Kuchar in 17 holes Friday to advance to today’s quarters.
At The Golf Club at Dove Mountain, there is more than one way to skin a cat.
Spieth has trailed for just four holes all week. McDowell has trailed for 44 of the 58 holes he’s played.
McDowell was 3 down with three to play in the first round against Gary Woodland. A day later, he was two down with four to play against Hideki Matsuyama and, on Friday, he was two down with two to play against Mahan.
“I really don’t know what to say,” said McDowell, who will match up with Victor Dubuisson at noon today in the quarterfinals. “I’m not embarrassed, but I feel like I’m robbing these guys. I’m fairly beat up, I have to say. I’ll recover well tonight and I’ll get back out here tomorrow morning.
“This simulates Sunday afternoons, and this is giving me the mental workout that I needed.”
After winning the final two holes Friday to force extras, McDowell rolled in a birdie on the third playoff hole to win the match.
Spieth, a 20-year-old American who was named the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2013, hasn’t had nearly the stress McDowell has endured.
The University of Texas product rolled in nine birdies against Kuchar, including one on his final hole of the day, No. 17. Spieth found the second cut of rough on an errant tee shot. But he recovered, hitting his second shot within 12 feet of the hole and then knocked in his birdie putt for the win.
In beating Kuchar, he did something not a lot of pros have been able to do. It was just Kuchar’s fourth loss on Dove Mountain, dropping his career mark to 17-4.
“He’s a smiling assassin out there,” Spieth said of Kuchar. “It almost seems like he’s more laid back than other players, even though I know inside he’s not. He’s a great role model and it was great to see the way he handled everything.”
Spieth will face Ernie Els this morning at 11:45.
“I’m excited to play Ernie,” Spieth said. “He can go low. I know that he hasn’t played his best golf yet this week, so I’m sure it will come (today). I’ve got to be prepared for it. You’ve got to beat past champions and major champions in this tournament to keep advancing.
“Although I’m neither, I’d like to be one.”
Oosthuizen rolls again
Maybe the only player having an easier week than Spieth is 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. The No. 8 seed in the Bobby Jones bracket rolled to a 5-and-4 win over No. 5 seed Webb Simpson in Friday’s third round.
He’ll face No. 2 seed Jason Day in today’s quarters.
Oosthuizen has played just 29 holes the past two rounds. He took out No. 1 overall seed Henrik Stenson 4 and 3 on Thursday.
“I’ve been striking it well the whole year, and I’m playing some of the best now,” Oosthuizen said. “I feel like I’m hitting the ball really good and just need to make the putts.”
He is attempting to become the 12th player to own both a World Golf Championship and a major championship. It’s an exclusive list: the others are Keegan Bradley, Stewart Cink, Els, Phil Mickelson, Martin Kaymer, Geoff Ogilvy, Justin Rose, Vijay Singh, David Toms, Mike Weir and Tiger Woods.
Oosthuizen would join Kaymer (2010 PGA Championship, 2011 HSBC Champions) as the only two players to make their first two PGA Tour victories a major and a WGC event.
After he beat Billy Horschel in 22 holes on Thursday, Day did something a little unique — he went to the gym.
Day beat George Coetzee in 17 holes on Friday 3 and 1 and credited his post-round workout as one of the reasons for his solid play. He had five birdies in his round and trailed for just one hole.
“I did a little workout and with that recovery session, it gave me more energy,” Day said. “I felt like I could go at the ball a little harder today and hit it a little farther.
“I played really nicely today and so did he.”
Day is in the quarterfinals for the second straight year.
Saturday's tee times
Saturday's tee times for Match Play quarterfinals
|Tee time||Player (seed)||Player (seed)|
|10:05 a.m.||Louis Ooshtuizen (32)||Jason Day (8)|
|10:20 a.m.||Jim Furyk (20)||Rickie Fowler (53)|
|11:45 a.m.||Ernie Els (31)||Jordan Spieth (10)|
|Noon||Graeme McDowell (14)||Victor Dubuisson (27)|